ENSURING that vulnerable people don’t get isolated is the aim of Accessible Transport West Somerset.

The charity has landed £8,556 from the Gannett Foundation to convert a minibus for use by elderly, disabled and less mobile people.

ATWEST provides community transport so people can shop, get to medical appointments and meet up.

Funding officer Barbara Middleton said: “We’re delighted to have got the grant – it’s wonderful.

“In these days of financial and bus route cuts we’ve become even more important in keeping the community healthily independent and keeping elderly people out of care homes.

“We provide customer-friendly transport, which reduces isolation, depression, loneliness and promotes greater community participation.

“We escort people out of their homes to shop, see to their daily needs, and keep more confident and active for longer.”

The charity’s main services are: escorted shopping routes; dial-a-ride services; group outings; a travel club for people to visit local amenities; and a social car scheme to take people to hospital outside the area.

With 45% of people in West Somerset over 60, the charity’s work is vital – in 2011 it covered nearly 140,000 miles on 13,000 journeys.

In many cases it offers reduced fares thanks to support from Somerset County Council.

Barbara said: “One of the people who use our service summed it up by saying ‘life goes on and we’re still part of it because of what you do’.”

To volunteer for the charity or for more details, call 01643-709701.